You know how some people seem to have been born with a silver spoon in their mouth? Well, instead of a silver spoon, I think I may have been born with a lollipop in my mouth. Because man, have I got a sweet tooth!
And up until recently I fought against this thing. I mean I fought hard. Clean eating. Self shaming. And failed resolution after failed resolution to give up sweets. I tried everything.
So you can imagine my surprise and delight when I learned about intuitive eating…and this concept of permission to eat whatever I wanted. I know, I know, that’s not the only thing intuitive eating is about. It’s so much more, and I know that, but this idea of giving myself the permission to eat the sweets I craved so badly but had been so restrictive of…that permission was my ticket out of that life. Out of that self-bashing and misguided understanding of myself.
That permission landed me square in the face of sweets and a new found ability to eat them, enjoy them, and not feel out of control around them.
But like I said, permission is only part of the story here. In order to really enjoy the sweets I had to believe that I deserved to enjoy them and I had to know that they weren’t going to send my body physically reeling into sickness.
To do that requires a holistic approach of caring for your mind and body too.
Let’s face it, Valentine’s Day and sweets carry with them a whole lot of diet culture baggage. It’s time we put this all to rest and enjoyed ourselves fully this year. To help you, here’s a holistic approach to your Valentine’s Day.
Nourish Your Body
All too often when we think about the food we eat, make menu plans, or search for recipes, we are focused only on the nutrients and how these foods will contribute to our health and well being. I’m guessing you even have mini conversations with yourself about how “healthy” any given menu item or meal plan is.
And when it comes to holidays…especially holidays that seem to center around candy and sweets like Valentine’s Day does…there’s this notion that these sweet treats lack any ability to also contribute to your health. And they usually get tangled in with a need to justify their consumption.
Now don’t get me wrong, paying attention to foods that contribute positively to your health is a good thing. And if you were to eat sweets and nothing but sweets forever and ever amen, you’re not going to experience great health. But great nutrition is not the be-all-end-all to your health. And it for sure isn’t the only contributing factor to your well being.
Let’s take a moment to define well being. Well being encompasses your physical, mental, and spiritual states. In order to consider yourself in a state of “well” being, you would ideally want to have balance or harmony in all those areas.
So your well being depends on more than just your nutrition. And while nutrition is intricately tied to both your physical and mental health, it’s not the only factor. You see your mental health also impacts your physical health.
What does all of this have to do with eating candy on Valentine’s day?
How you think and feel about your food choices, what you choose to eat and what you choose not to eat, can heavily influence your well being through your mental health. And if you want to have the chocolate, but don’t allow the chocolate (or scold yourself when you do have it), your mental health will suffer. And so will your well being.
So all of that just to say…let yourself eat the chocolate.
Nourish Your Mind
Holidays can be stressful times, and Valentine’s Day is not immune. In fact to some, this day of showing your affection to loved ones can be a grim reminder of loss and solitude.
If this holiday tends to get you down or stresses you out, it’s likely because you’re letting the holiday and all the media influences drive your emotions. It’s time to put yourself back in charge. Instead of focusing on the usual things this year, try turning your attention inward.
Taking time to be mindful of yourself is a great way to show and grow your love…for yourself and for others.
When you improve your mindfulness, you improve your “emotional intelligence and the ability to relate to others and one’s self with kindness, acceptance and compassion” (1).
If that’s not true to Valentine’s Day then I don’t know what is.
Nourish Your Sweet Tooth
Remember how I said I fought this sweet tooth so hard? And how I lived with shame because I failed every attempt to control and restrict my sweets? Turns out that was just my body doing its thing…and my body is completely normal and okay. And so is yours.
In fact, your body is designed to like sweets. It’s one of those cave-era survival methods that kept us going back for more food, food that has good energy producing qualities especially (bring on those carbs!) so we could run away from predators or run after food if it tried to get away.
So now that you know this, does it help you view that sweet tooth a little more gingerly? Perhaps it’s time to allow these sweets freely. And what better time than Valentine’s Day?
Whether you’re a fan of the readily available chocolate and candies on department store shelves, or whether you have a more discerning taste for fiber sweets doesn’t really matter. The simple act of allowing yourself to enjoy them is an act of nourishing your sweet tooth and reinforcing the concept within your mind that a sweet tooth is okay. It’s normal. And it’s nothing to shame or be ashamed of.
So now it’s your turn. How will you be spending your Valentine’s Day differently this year? Sometimes you need a little extra support. You need a posse of people on your side, who’ve been in the same boat or who are swimming right alongside you. People who feel like you do. If that’s you right now and you’re looking to find your people to help you along your intuitive eating journey, join us over in Nutrition for Living, the Facebook group for people like us!